Ereviews: The Vogue Archive

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CONTENT The Vogue Archive offers the entire run, fully searchable, of the U.S. edition of Vogue magazine from its first issue in 1892 to the current month. Every page, advertisement, cover, and foldout is included, indexed, and reproduced as a high-resolution color image. The online indexing allows users to find images by item (e.g., kimono, scoop neckline), person shown, company, designer, fabric, trend, color, and print (e.g., batik, Liberty). Contributor names from image credits (photographers, stylists, illustrators, etc.) are also indexed and searchable, and image captions have been captured to allow accurate retrieval of photographs and illustrations.

USABILITY The main screen is simple, with clean lines and no clutter (not surprising given the subject matter). Notably, the title of the database at screen top is actually larger and more prominent than the ProQuest logo‚ a welcome change from other products in which it can be difficult to discern what you’re searching. Below the title is a simple search box, a link to advanced search, and a check box for searching Full Text. Beneath this is a brief description of the database and a list of subjects covered, along with six colorful issue covers from different Vogue eras. At screen right is a link to go directly into the latest issue, along with a Featured Content item (during this review, the item was ‚Äâ‚ÄòThe Doe Eye’ [Jan. 1950], a portrait of Jean Patchett by experimental photographer Erwin Blumenfeld).

My first simple search, for material including the 1960s model twiggy, netted 20 articles. The first in the list, Twiggy Haute Couture, from the March 16, 1967, issue, is a 22-page spread with scads of photos along with very articulate text by Polly Devlin. Users can pull up the entire article, both text and photos, by clicking on the title link to get a full layout view with easy zooming and navigation.

At screen top is a toolbar with links to Save to My Research, Print to fit, Save as file, and Tags (patrons can add shared tags to the documents by signing into My Research), and a social media share window. The expected email, cite, and export functions are available, too, and to the right is a link to a Show more detail feature that toggles to add a list of indexing details below the article image.

An advanced search for edna woolman chase in the Magazine Editor search field took only one and a half seconds and returned 168,262 results‚ namely, all the items published in Vogue during Woolman Chase’s tenure, 1914 to 1951.

The Browse Issues link at screen top leads to a page offering a look at the most recent issue or allowing the selection of any issue between 1892 and 2011. I chose to browse Volume 1, Number 1, from December 17, 1892. The initial 20 items showed onscreen, including the issue cover; 46 advertisements for products such as Allcock’s Porous Plaster and Linene Reversible Collars and Cuffs; delightful drolleries such as Something Unique pieces; illustrations; short features; Publishers’ Notices; a society supplement describing events of The Season; and much more.

Curious to check the quality of the ad indexing, I did an advanced search for allcock’s porous plaster in all text and got 82 results for ads the company placed in Vogue from the December 17, 1892, issue to the December 27, 1894, magazine. These results can be sorted according to relevance or publication date (oldest or most recent first). Then, since the database allows searching within results, I added the word aches to my set of 82, which cut it down to 51 Allcock’s ads that mentioned that word. This is remarkable enough, but it’s also possible to narrow hits by record type, document feature, fashion item, and company.

After that I ran searches for lily langtry (46 results), bustles (144), snoods (244), Nehru jacket (43), and belly rings (127). I was able to use several views: article citation, full text, and Full Text‚ Flash (some of the Flash images can take a few seconds to load). Important to note is that when the original print images are in color, the onscreen color of the digitized image is vivid and high resolution‚ an absolute must for this database.

Exhaustive context, extraordinarily detailed fields and indexing, ease of use, maneuverability, and overall speed all combine to make this an excellent file.

PRICING The Vogue Archive is available as an annual subscription or as a purchase. Pricing varies according to a number of factors, including type of library and its size (FTE or population served) and other ProQuest database holdings. A school of art with an FTE of around 3500, for example, would pay approximately $3100 annually. Consortia pricing is available.

VERDICT Appreciatively and vigorously recommended for academic, public, some school, and special libraries. This file will serve the needs of so many patrons‚ schoolchildren looking for historical ads, graduate students needing cultural fashion and lifestyle material, scholars researching American mores, and many more. I heartily wish I’d had online access to this file over the past 30 years‚ oh, the reference and research queries it’s going to answer!

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.